IDEA Burlington – local event: human rights day event

November 27, 2008


Guest Speaker



Bob Lovelace is making Canadian history. Being co-chief of the Ardoch Nation and an Algonquin, he together with other members of his Nation blocked the uranium mining company Frontenac Ventures from prospecting and exploiting his Nation’s land (under dispute by a land claim) without permission. For his actions, he was sent to jail. He will speak about his experience and the struggle facing indigenous land rights in Canada today.


Date: Wednesday, December 10th, 2008, 7.30pm – FREE!

Location: McMaster University

Health Sciences Centre, 1A4

(at rear of hospital, near Health Science library)


Co-sponsors: CUPE 3906, Indigenous Peace Education, OPIRG, The Centre for Peace Studies and Development & Peace.

For more information, contact


Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Truth-teller for Our Times

November 24, 2008

November 23, 2008
Tomgram: Nick Turse, A Truth-teller for Our Times

[Note to Readers: In the spirit of Nick Turse’s article below on truth-telling and civilian deaths in war, TomDispatch would like to direct your attention to a recently published paperback, Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan, Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations, a powerful text with words, images, and documents from the Spring 2008 hearings in Washington, DC, at which American veterans of Bush’s two occupations spoke out about the dark side of the wars they fought.]

By October 2005, when American casualties in Iraq had not yet reached 2,000 dead or 15,000 wounded, and our casualties in Afghanistan were still modest indeed, informal “walls” had already begun springing up online to honor the fallen. At that time, I suggested that “the particular dishonor this administration has brought down on our country calls out for other ‘walls’ as well.” I imagined, then, walls of shame for Bush administration figures and their cronies — and even produced one (in words) that November. By now, of course, any such wall would be full to bursting with names that will live in infamy.

That October, we at TomDispatch also launched quite a different project, another kind of “wall,” this time in tribute to the striking number of “governmental casualties of Bush administration follies, those men and women who were honorable or steadfast enough in their government duties,” and so often found themselves smeared and with little alternative but to resign in protest, quit, or simply be pushed off the cliff by cronies of the administration.

Nick Turse led off what we came to call our “fallen legion” project with a list of 42 such names, ranging from the well-known Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki (who retired after suggesting to Congress that it would take “several hundred thousand troops” to occupy Iraq) and Richard Clarke (who quit, appalled by how the administration was dealing with terror and terrorism) to the moderately well known Ann Wright, John Brown, and John Brady Kiesling (three diplomats who resigned to protest the coming invasion of Iraq) to the little known Archivist of the United States John W. Carlin (who resigned under pressure, possibly so that various Bush papers could be kept under wraps). By the time Turse had written his second fallen legion piece that November, and then the third and last in February 2006, that list of names had topped 200 with no end in sight.

Today, to its eternal shame, the Bush administration has left not just its own projects, but the nation it ruled, in ruins. No wall could fit its particular “accomplishments.” Turse, who recently wrote for the Nation magazine “A My Lai a Month,” a striking exposé of a U.S. counterinsurgency campaign in Vietnam that slaughtered thousands of civilians, returns in the last moments of this dishonored administration with a fitting capstone piece for the honorably fallen in Washington. Think of it as the last of the “fallen legion,” a memory piece — lest we forget. Tom

“We killed her… that will be with me the rest of my life”

Lawrence Wilkerson’s Lessons of War and Truth

By Nick Turse

Nations in flux are nations in need. A new president will soon take office, facing hard choices not only about two long-running wars and an ever-deepening economic crisis, but about a government that has long been morally adrift. Torture-as-policy, kidnappings, ghost prisons, domestic surveillance, creeping militarism, illegal war-making, and official lies have been the order of the day. Moments like this call for truth-tellers. For Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. For witnesses willing to come forward. For brave souls ready to expose hidden and forbidden realities to the light of day.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Jacqueline Cabasso’s MacBride Peace Prize acceptance speech

November 24, 2008
Jacqueline Cabasso’s November 14, 2008 speech in Copenhagen accepting the Sean MacBride Peace Prize from the International Peace Bureau is now online at Excerpts are included in the below press release. For photos and more information about the prize, see
Copenhagen, Nov. 17, 2008.  Contact: Colin Archer, Geneva Tel. +41 22 731 6429,
On Friday, Nov. 14, the International Peace Bureau (IPB) presented its annual award, the Sean MacBride Peace Prize, to Jacqueline Cabasso, a well-known US advocate of nuclear disarmament. The prize was awarded during the IPB’s annual seminar, this year held in Copenhagen. IPB President Tomas Magnusson declared: “At this crucial time in history, just days after the momentous US election result, IPB believes this award to Jackie Cabasso will help underline the urgency for the new administration and for all other nuclear-armed states, of taking bold steps towards the elimination of nuclear weapons. She has played a vital role within the movement by acting as a constant ‘watchdog’, monitoring closely and challenging the work going on inside the nuclear weapons laboratories; and as critical voice in the nuclear debate ‘beyond the Washington beltway’.”
The Geneva-based International Peace Bureau is a global network of over 300 peace organisations in 70 countries. It won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1910.  Every year IPB awards the MacBride Peace Prize to a person or organisation that has done outstanding work for peace, disarmament and/or human rights. These were the principal concerns of Sean MacBride, the distinguished Irish statesman who was Chairman of IPB from 1968-74 and President from 1974-1985. He was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (1974) – awarded for his wide-ranging work, which included roles such as co-founder of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and UN Commissioner for Namibia. Past winners of the MacBride Peace Prize include: (2007) Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lanka, former UN Under Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs; (2002) Barbara Lee, only member of the US Congress to vote against the open-ended authorization for the “war on terror”; and (1998) John Hume, a member of the European Parliament who consistently advocated non-violent solutions in Northern Ireland and was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. For more information on IPB and the MacBride Peace Prize, see
Jacqueline Cabasso has served as Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation (WSLF) in Oakland, California, USA, since 1984, and has been involved in nuclear disarmament, peace and environmental advocacy at the local, national and international levels for over 25 years. In her home region, with WSLF, she has provided legal support for nonviolent protesters; engaged in environmental review proceedings and litigation to challenge new nuclear facilities, transportation of nuclear waste, and proposals to base nuclear-armed warships; and organized grassroots multi-issue coalitions. Cabasso is a leading voice for nuclear weapons abolition, speaking at events across North America, Europe, and Asia.  She serves on the Steering Committee of United for Peace and Justice, the largest anti-war coalition in the US, and convenes its Nuclear Disarmament & Redefining Security working group.  In 1995 she was a “founding mother” of the Abolition 2000 Global Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons, the largest anti-nuclear network in the world, and she continues to serve on its Coordinating Committee. Since August 2007, Cabasso has served as the North American Coordinator for Mayors for Peace. She is a contributor to Nuclear Disorder or Cooperative Security? U.S. Weapons of Terror, the Global Proliferation Crisis and Paths to Peace (2007) and the co‑author of Risking Peace: Why We Sat in the Road (1985), an account of the huge 1983 nonviolent protest at the Livermore Nuclear Weapons Laboratory and the subsequent mass trial conducted by WSLF.  Her writings have appeared in numerous publications including The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the journal Social Justice, the Oakland Tribune, and the San Francisco Chronicle.
In her acceptance speech, Ms. Cabasso said in part:
“The Encarta Encyclopedia describes militarism as ‘advocacy of an ever-stronger military as a primary goal of society, even at the cost of other social priorities and liberties.’  As disquieting as it may be, this definition accurately describes the trajectory of United Statesnational security policy that the next U.S. President will inherit. And it is reflected in the national security policies of a growing number of other countries.
The policy of the nuclear weapon states, in particular the U.S., U.K. and France can be characterized as ‘fewer but newer,’ and is increasingly ‘capacity-based.’  These states cling to the notion of ‘deterrence,’ but the ‘threat’ they seek to deter is an unknown and uncertain future.  They claim that reductions in numbers from the insane heights of the Cold War constitute meaningful disarmament, but disarmament is not just about the numbers.  Led by the U.S., they are modernizing and qualitatively improving their ‘enduring’ nuclear arsenals – both warheads and delivery systems.
What is to be done?  The answer is clear to ordinary people.  We need to fundamentally redefine security.  We must put universal human security and ecological sustainability at the heart of conflict resolution and prevention.  We must divest precious resources from militarism and invest them instead in this new security paradigm.

What’s called for is a straightforward, unambiguous demand for the global abolition of nuclear weapons.  This suggests the need forimmediate negotiations and a timebound framework.  Our demand, however, must be coupled with a clear-eyed recognition of the central role nuclear weapons continue to play in the National Security State, firmly in place since 1945, and a much deeper understanding of the powerful forces that have successfully perpetuated the nuclear weapons enterprise despite the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War nearly 20 years ago.

With the global economy in collapse and the worldwide surge of hope in response to the election of Barack Obama as U.S. President, the time is ripe for another massive surge of public demand – from the bottom up – for the abolition of nuclear weapons.  But this time, we must understand that nuclear disarmament is not enough, and that we can’t achieve it alone.  This time we must insist that nuclear disarmament serve as the leading edge of a global trend towards demilitarization and redirection of military expenditures to meet human needs and save the environment.”

Cabasso can be reached at cell +1 (510) 306-0119 and beginning Nov. 19 in California at +1 (510) 839-5877. Email: wslf (at)

Urgent Deadline – November 19, 2008 – to Demand a credible environmental review of new nuclear reactors at Darlington

November 18, 2008

Urgent Deadline – November 19, 2008

Action Alert – Demand a credible environmental review of new nuclear reactors at Darlington

The federal government is pushing ahead with an environmental review on Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) proposal to build new nuclear reactors at Darlington that will exclude significant environmental impacts, such as radioactive waste, significant accidents.  Worse, it will not consider environmentally friendly alternatives to nuclear power, such as renewables and conservation.

How can you help?

Please tell the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (CEAA) it is unacceptable to exclude the significant environmental impacts from the environmental assessment on new nuclear reactors at the Darlington nuclear station.    Tell CEAA that any credible review should assess more environmental friendly alternatives to building nuclear plants, such as renewables and conservation.

How? Below you will find additional background and a draft letter you can use to make your submission.

When? The deadline for making submissions to CEAA is November 19th.

How? Send submissions to Darlington.

If you have any questions, or want to know how to stay involved please contact:

Peter Aulich – – 416-597-8408 x3072.

Background: Why should I be concerned?

Ontario Power Generation (OPG) wants to build four nuclear reactors on the shores of Lake Ontario at its Darlington site. The federal Ministry of the Environment and the federal Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) are conducting environmental assessment of this project as a “joint review panel”. This panel will decide whether the project passes the environmental assessment.

Historically, the federal government has allowed the nuclear industry to exclude significant environmental effects, such as radioactive waste and nuclear accidents, from environmental reviews on nuclear projects.  This has allowed environmental reviews to come to the false conclusion that nuclear reactors pose no threat to the environment.

The draft environmental assessment guidelines for the Darlington New Build Project would allow OPG to again exclude significant environmental impacts from its environmental assessment report.

You can find the draft environmental assessment guidelines on CEAA’s website here:

Draft Letter

Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant Project
Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency
160 Elgin Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0H3
Tel.: 1-866-582-1884
Fax: 613-957-0941

Re: Comments on the Draft Environmental Assessment Guidelines for the Darlington New Nuclear Power Plant Project

To whom it may concern,

I am deeply concerned that the environmental assessment guidelines regarding Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG) proposed construction of new reactors at the Darlington nuclear station excludes significant environmental hazards of public concern.

The following are my high-level comments on the guidelines.

Purpose, Need, and Alternatives to the Project

The current draft guidelines do not require OPG to provide important key information regarding the purpose, need, and alternatives to the project.

Specifically, the draft guidelines only require OPG to outline the purpose and need for the project from OPG’s own perspective.  OPG should instead be required to explain the purpose and need of the project in terms of the public interest.

The draft guidelines only require OPG to provide information on alternative “methods of producing electricity.” The guidelines should instead require OPG to examine potential alternatives of meeting electricity demand, including demand management and conservation.

The draft guidelines expressly state that “provincial energy policy” cannot be addressed and that alternatives “contrary to Ontario’s formal plans or directives” need not be examined. This part of the guidelines is unacceptable and should be removed.

Radioactive Waste

OPG should be required to describe the long term potential adverse environmental effects of creating this nuclear waste.

Under the present proposal, however, OPG is only required to describe “at a conceptual level” how used nuclear fuel waste will be managed, because another organization is “expected” to manage that waste.

The time horizons of the assessment must be extended beyond the abandonment phase. The potential adverse effects of used nuclear waste should also be assessed in the post-abandonment phase and when considering malfunctions, accidents and malevolent acts.

If OPG fails to assess this, it will have failed to consider some of the most important environmental effects of the project.

Application of Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act

Provincial environmental assessments must be carried out where the project is undertaken “on behalf of” Ontario.

OPG was directed to undertake this project by the Ontario Ministry of Energy in June of 2006 and therefore it appears that Ontario should formally participate in this environmental assessment as a signatory to the Joint Review Panel Agreement or else conduct its own assessment.

The draft guidelines themselves recognize that this project is on behalf of Ontario when they say on page 9 that “The Province of Ontario is considering a range of reactor designs.” Therefore this issue should be more thoroughly reviewed and explained.

OPG should be required to undertake a provincial environmental assessment, and if it doesn’t, it should be required to explain in its EIS why it thinks Ontario’s Environmental Assessment Act does not apply.

Cost overruns and financing

In the draft guidelines OPG is only required to look at regional economic impacts, such as impacts on the job market. OPG should instead be required to provide information on the costs of the project and its alternatives, including the likelihood and liability for cost overruns.

This information is necessary to adequately compare the project to its alternatives. It is also necessary to quantify the project’s effects on taxpayers and ratepayers who could end up footing the bill, as they did with the current fleet of nuclear reactors. As it stands, OPG is not properly examining the costs and financing of the project and its alternatives.

Accidents, Malfunctions, & Malevolent Acts

The draft guidelines exclude a range of possible nuclear accidents and malfunctions from the scope of the environmental assessment. This is unacceptable given that OPG is legally protected from paying the costs for such events beyond a certain level.

OPG should be required to identify and assess all potential adverse environmental effects of all realistic malfunctions, accidents and terrorist events.

The Darlington site is also home to four reactors as well as a spent fuel storage facility.  OPG should be required to assess the cumulative impacts of accidents and malfunctions affecting each nuclear power plant and spent-fuel-storage facility as part of the environmental review.

The EIS guidelines do not require OPG to explain who would pay for clean up and compensation in the event of an accident, malfunction, or malevolent act. The EIS Guidelines should require OPG to detail 1) the extent of all potential cleanup and compensation costs arising from each possible nuclear accident, malfunction, and malevolent act, 2) whether persons in Canada and the United States would be fully compensated, 3) who would pay for the cleanup and compensation, and 4) how this compares to the system of nuclear liability in the United States.

Thank you for considering my comments.


ICH: Conned Again…

November 10, 2008

These are just a few of the informative articles from this weekend’s edition of the Information Clearing House (ICH) newsletter:

Conned Again
By Paul Craig Roberts
Obama’s selection of Rahm Israel Emanuel as White House chief of staff is a signal that change ended with Obama’s election. The only thing different about the new administration will be the faces.
Obama vs. Medvedev
Nuclear Smackdown in New Europe
By Mike Whitney
Most of what is written about Medvedev is nonsense. The same corporations that own the politicians own the media as well. Naturally, they want to demonize their rivals. In truth, most Americans would have a lot more in common with Medvedev than they would with Bush, Cheney or any of their “silver spoon” elitist cronies.
The Machine Grinds On
By Morton Skorodin
The machine grinds on relentlessly. Now it’s: give Obama a chance. This means: Public, go back to sleep. In the meantime Obama and the state machinery work at feverish pace.
Tough Sledding Ahead
Surviving A Coming USD Collapse
By Christopher Laird
The Two insoluble problems that will lead to a depression and ultimately the final USD collapse.
Pakistan attacks kill 54: :
Jets from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) bombed hills in Pakistan’s Khyber tribal district, killing at least five people.
U.S. Missile Attack Kills at Least 10 in Pakistan:
Missiles fired from a remotely piloted United States aircraft slammed into a village in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan along the Afghan border on Friday and killed 10 to 13 people, according to a local intelligence official, a Pakistani reporter and two Pakistani television channels.
U.S. Admits Killing 37 Afghan Civilians :
The U.S. military Saturday admitted it while responding to an insurgent ambush has killed 37 civilians and wounded 35 others in southern Afghanistan’s Kandahar, a Taliban heartland.
Afghanistan: The Promise and the Reality
Reckless Soldiers, Slappers and Smack
By Yvonne Ridley in Afghanistan
The day after US war planes bombed an Afghan wedding party killing more than 30 women and children, I drove from Pakistan’s troubled tribal areas to the border crossing.
Number Of Iraqis Slaughtered Since The U.S. Invaded Iraq “1,284,105”


Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America’sWar On Iraq 4,193

The War And Occupation Of Iraq Costs

See the cost in your community


Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Energy Challenge of Our Lifetime

November 10, 2008

November 9, 2008
Tomgram: Michael Klare, The Energy Challenge of Our Lifetime

Today, TomDispatch offers the first serious overview in the new Obama era of what energy expert and author of Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy, Michael T. Klare, terms the “challenge of our lifetime”: the American energy crisis. And so it is. But here’s the irony. As energy prices soared these last years — a perfect moment to have put real human energy (and funds) into the development of renewable alternatives — an all-oil-all-the-time, drill-baby-drill administration launched its oil wars while simply ignoring long-term solutions to our energy problems (except for a disastrous sally into corn-based biofuel). Now, amid global economic devastation, the price of oil has dropped precipitously, more than halving its 2007 top price of $147 a barrel. As last week ended, the price of a barrel of crude oil briefly dipped below $60, once again making investment in alternative, renewable energy systems look unprofitable and — global warming aside — beside the point.

But don’t believe it for a second. Consider present global energy prices the equivalent of a mirage. Just this week, the International Energy Agency released the findings from its upcoming annual report, warning that, in the coming years, oil will once again break the $100 a barrel barrier and — they target 2030, but it could be far sooner — the $200 barrier as well. Whether six months or six years from now, a new spike in energy prices, if we are unprepared, could rock an already staggering planet.

No time, it’s clear, will be the right time to invest our scientific prowess, technological skill, and funds in the genuine, safe energy future that we need, which is why it must simply be done — and soon. For a nation that once had a can-do reputation, but has lived through its share of can’t-do administrations, Klare’s warning about the real challenge that faces us should be sobering indeed. Tom

Obama’s Toughest Challenge

America’s Energy Crunch Comes Home

By Michael T. Klare

Of all the challenges facing President Barack Obama next January, none is likely to prove as daunting, or important to the future of this nation, as that of energy. After all, energy policy — so totally mishandled by the outgoing Bush-Cheney administration — figures in each of the other major challenges facing the new president, including the economy, the environment, foreign policy, and our Middle Eastern wars. Most of all, it will prove a monumental challenge because the United States faces an energy crisis of unprecedented magnitude that is getting worse by the day.

The U.S. needs energy — lots of it. Day in and day out, this country, with only 5% of the world’s population, consumes one quarter of the world’s total energy supply. About 40% of our energy comes from oil: some 20 million barrels, or 840 million gallons a day. Another 23% comes from coal, and a like percentage from natural gas. Providing all this energy to American consumers and businesses, even in an economic downturn, remains a Herculean task, and will only grow more so in the years ahead. Addressing the environmental consequences of consuming fossil fuels at such levels, all emitting climate-altering greenhouse gases, only makes this equation more intimidating.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, Day of the Citizen

November 7, 2008

November 6, 2008
Tomgram: Rebecca Solnit, Day of the Citizen

For almost eight years, somebody else’s bad-seed children had the run of the political sandbox. You could look on in horror as they bullied others, tore up the playground, and even managed to throw sand in their own eyes. You could yell at them (though they were heedless), or wonder where in the world their parents had gone, or who in the world had ever raised them to be this way. It was harder to dream, to hope.

Perhaps the best thing about the election of Barack Obama is simply the thought that, two and a half months from now, those mad children will be gone (though the damage they did will be with us eternally). At least that opens up the possibility of dreaming — and not just about the undoubtedly relatively familiar cast of characters who are likely to be appointed by the new president.

What’s happened is still only slowly sinking in for me, but the din outside my window election night when CNN declared Obama the victor — as if the Mets had just won the World Series (yes, I live in New York) — was surely a roar of joy, but also of relief. The images of Americans, young and old, weeping with pleasure and relief, the interviews on the news yesterday in which Americans nationwide dared to hope, however hesitantly, were all moving.

Back in May 2003, in a particularly dark moment, Rebecca Solnit posted an essay, “Acts of Hope,” at this site that became her wonderful, essential book — one that changed the way I look at history and life — Hope in the Dark. In it she wrote:

“A lot of activists expect that for every action there is an equal and opposite and punctual reaction, and regard the lack of one as failure… But history is shaped by the groundswells and common dreams that single acts and moments only represent. It’s a landscape more complicated than commensurate cause and effect. Politics is a surface in which transformation comes about as much because of pervasive changes in the depths of the collective imagination as because of visible acts, though both are necessary. And though huge causes sometimes have little effect, tiny ones occasionally have huge consequences… History is like weather, not like checkers. A game of checkers ends. The weather never does.”

She never stopped hoping or dreaming. Now, it seems, the weather is changing. If you feel hopeful, hang on to that feeling when things start to go wrong, as they certainly will. Tom

A Great Day, Nine Years, Three or Four Centuries

The Jubilant Birth of the Obama Era

By Rebecca Solnit

Citizenship is a passionate joy at times, and this is one of those times. You can feel it. Tuesday the world changed. It was a great day. Monday it rained hard for the first time this season and on Election Day, everything in San Francisco was washed clean. I went on a long run past several polling places up in the hills around my home and saw lines of working people waiting to vote and contented-looking citizens walking around with their “I Voted” stickers in the sun and mud.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.